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The Ninth Sunday after Trinity - 2013

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity.

Psalm 86
Inclina, Domine
( . . . )
4. Comfort the soul of thy servant : for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5. For thou, Lord, art good and gracious : and of great mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
6. Give ear, Lord, unto my prayer : and ponder the voice of my humble desires.
7. In the time of my trouble I will call upon thee : for thou hearest me.
8. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord : there is not one that can do as thou doest.
( . . . )

The Collect.
GRANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: 1 Kings 10.1-25
Psalter: Psalm 46, 47 | 44, 45
Epistle Reading: 1 Corinthians 10.1-13

Gospel Reading: St.Luke 16.1-9


Eighth Sunday after Trinity and St. James - 2013

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

Psalm 119
( . . . )
THY testimonies are wonderful : therefore doth my soul keep them.
130. When thy word goeth forth : it giveth light and understanding unto the simple.
131. I opened my mouth, and drew in my breath : for my delight was in thy commandments.
132. O look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me : as thou usest to do unto those that love thy Name.
133. Order my steps in thy word : and so shall no wickedness have dominion over me.
134. O deliver me from the wrongful dealings of men : and so shall I keep thy commandments.
( . . . )

The Collect.
O GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Zechariah 4.1-10
Psalter: Psalm 39, 41 | 37
Epistle Reading: Romans 8.12-17
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 7.15-21

Personal Reflections (MWP): At the time you are reading this I am on vacation with family out in the hinterlands of the U.S.A., nevertheless I couldn’t help but comment on this Collect. This is, again, one of my more favorite prayers, and I committed it to memory long, long ago. Its substantive simplicity is its brilliance. It breaks down into two segments, with the second opening out in two parts.

The declaration that God’s providence “ordereth all things” is inclusive of “heaven and earth.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q & A 11) succinctly defines God’s works of providence in this way: “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.” The Collect goes further in announcing that God’s providence is “never-failing,” it can’t be thwarted by conspiracies, governments, catastrophes, or human schemes.

The first portion of the petition is stated somewhat in the negative. That God, by his never-failing-ordering-all-things-providence would put away from us “all hurtful things.” Here is the prayer of every Christian, especially as they face disease, frailty, combat, business disasters, etc. This part of the petition recognizes that God knows what’s hurtful for us, something that we don’t always comprehend.

The second portion is stated in a more positive way. That this God, by his never-failing-ordering-all-things-providence, would give us “those things which be profitable for us.” Again, this is the prayer of every Christian looking to move into the “happy issue out of all their afflictions” and on into better days and better ways. This part of the prayer also recognizes that God knows what is genuinely profitable for us, which we might not.

In both parts of this petition the supplicant is surrendering to God’s judgment about what is harmful, and what is profitable. This is a good and safe place to be. It seems to me that the Collect is wisely drawing from James 1.2-4, which I will close with: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Saint James the Apostle
(25 July 2013)
The Collect
Grant, O merciful God, that as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 45.1-5
Psalter: Psalm 34
Epistle Reading: Acts 11.27-12.3

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 20.20-28

Primus Pilus II


Seventh Sunday after Trinity - 2013

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

Psalm 81
Exultate Deo
( . . . )
9. Hear, O my people, and I will assure thee, O Israel : if thou wilt hearken unto me,
10. There shall no strange god be in thee : neither shalt thou worship any other god.
11. I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt : open thy mouth wide, and I shall fill it.
( . . . )

The Collect.
LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Hosea 14.1-9
Psalter: Psalm 32, 36 | 33, 34
Epistle Reading: Romans 6.19-23
Gospel Reading: St. Mark 8.1-9

Barbee and Zahl: “As always in the Pray Book Collects, we are enjoined to ask God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. ( . . . ) The Collect’s four verbs display the potency of God at the expense of the creature’s impotence.
One of the four petitions requires particular explanation. What is “true religion,” for which we are asking the increase? ( . . . ) True religion accepts the full diagnosis of the psychogenetic defect known as sin. True religion casts all humanity’s hope for release from the original universal defect on Christ, His sacrifice, and His resurrection. True religion looks to the Bible, and nothing beyond the Bible, for the Word from God about Christ. True religion results in and is the cause of the works of love, known classically as love of neighbor. ( . . . ) False religion disappoints, causes outrageous reactions (especially within adolescents), fails to heal and give hope to lost people, and in a thousand ways maps out the way to God such that a person ends up either in the “slough of despond” (i.e. depression) or on a titanic pinnacle of earthborn self-righteousness. False religion, so asserts this Collect for Trinity VII, helps no one. True religion, on the other hand, is the great enabler of humane goodness” (83).

Personal reflection (MWP): every time I pray through this Collect, the petition regarding “true religion” draws my mind back to James 1.26-27: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”


The Sixth Sunday after Trinity - 2013

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.
Psalm 18
Diligam te, Domine
I WILL love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my stony rock, and my defence : my saviour, my God, and my might, in whom I will trust, my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my refuge.
2. I will call upon the Lord, which is worthy to be praised : so shall I be safe from mine enemies.
( . . . )

The Collect.
O GOD, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 57.13b-19
Psalter: Psalm 28, 29 | 30, 31
Epistle Reading: Romans 6.3-11
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 5.20-26

Barbee and Zahl: “Note the order of ideas in this Collect. “Pour into our hearts such love towards thee.” We do not or cannot love God without His help. That is because the human being fashions counterfeit gods continually. True God Himself, the God of the First Commandment, can be construed also as wrath and destruction, hurricane and straight-line winds. So the prayer asks God to give us love for Him! Without the love having shone in the face of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:6), we would be kidding ourselves to love God without keeping our fingers crossed. The result of this given love is that we come to love God in all things. Here is the Augustinian and Reformed insight: God is active in all things, the bad (from our perspective) as well as the good. He is to be loved in all circumstances. This suggests a very deep level of acceptance. “Who is sufficient for these things?” (II Corinthians 2:16) But the fruit of loving God in all things is, according to the prayer, the obtaining of the promises. And the promises are so good, that they “exceed all that we can desire.” God is therefore not only Love, and to be loved; but He is good. The Collect is unconditional. It leaves no room for human bargaining, exemptions, or intellectual escape clauses. His love surpasses “all man’s understanding,” causes us to love Him “in all things,” and results in (more than) “all that we can desire.” This is the pummelling clarity of Prayer Book religion” (81).

C.S. Lewis: “He's not safe, but he's good” (referring to Aslan, the Lion, in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”).


Independence Day (USA) - 2013

Independence Day.
[July 4.]
The Collect.
OETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Deuteronomy x. 17.
THE Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judg-ment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.

The Gospel. St. Matthew v. 43.

JESUS said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.